Plot points from @OVAC Twitter Feed:

Behind the Art Scenes:
Getting overly comfortable with your exhibition venues? Challenging post about stretching yourself by @ABStanfield

handy list of contemporary art blogs

Fun photographer series from @okiecreative NEW** @okiephotogs interview with Sarah Rhoads. Check it out

soup suppers funding artists, love it. Article: & How to:

have you all checked out to fund or recruit funders for creative projects?

Positively overwhelmed by outlandish, quirky & lovely Internet-based art projects on

profiles examining how age affects artistic work and production

RT @CrossroadsArts “…art is form of power; it has impact, it can affect change–it can not only move us, it makes us move.” (O Davis)

Opportunities for artists & volunteers:
helpful free artist opportunity enewsletter with public art commissions, shows from

travel grants for regional artists from Kansas City Artists Coalition

reminder: the Okie Blog Awards nominations being taken now, several arts categories! & follow @09okieblogaward

Free dental care clinic in Tulsa area Feb 5 & 6:

get your team ready, 24 Hour Video Race coming up February 5, sign up now

college students want to visit S Korea free over spring break? Feb 8 application deadline

OVAC News:
so… anyone notice anything new about us? New logo launched now!! Thanks @MrDylanB for design, we’d had old logo at least 13 years

Momentum Call for Artists now available! Deadline Feb. 19-20. See the full call for artists at

new crew of talented interns initiated, oops, I mean oriented today, bright eyed & curious group (yay) Intern info:

Fun kick off for @AlliedArtsOKC campaign last night, @OKCPhil rocked, 5th grader told brave story of why art is important, time to give!


Artist: Compulsion or Career Choice?

This article has provoked my thinking this week about what makes artists, well, artists. Sylvia White’s statement that art is not a profession shocked me a bit, especially since I work for an organization that is trying to help artists with the business and career aspects of their lives. We’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to elevate the professionalism of artists.

Her basic argument is that artists are different, called to their creativity rather than choosing to make art. I agree; the most successful artists are driven, deeply, by making their work. Also (obviously by my own career focus), I believe that artists’ work is very special.

However, I disagree on the fundamental point; I do think that being an artist is a career.

Perhaps the problem White is addresss really speaks to how we view careers in our culture—primarily based on revenue, status and other external barometers. What if our concept of professional success was framed by different measures like authenticity to your ethics and proficiencies, self actualization, connection to whatever community you value, etc?

If we rethink career from “making a living” to contributing to the broader society or pursuing an important vision, would that make an artistic career more palatable?

I am curious your thoughts and I’m still pondering.

Artist Business: Good Record Keeping Is Essential

Art careers often start as a hobby or a side endeavor, then develop into a profitable business. Many artists do not realize that they have started making money until they complete their tax returns and discover they owe money to the IRS.

Regardless of whether you are a new artist beginning your career or a seasoned professional, you should treat all of your artistic endeavors as if they are part of a business. You need to develop and maintain detailed records that show both your personal expenses and your business expenses such as art supplies, booth fees, etc. Your records should also include detailed information on the sales that you make throughout the year.

These records not only can help you monitor your financial progress as your art career develops. They can help you or your CPA in the preparation of your tax return. With detailed records, you can also make sure that you are taking all of the deductions available to you. In addition, detailed records allow you to verify the items included on your tax return. The ability to verify your items is important in the future if you are audited by the IRS.

It can be overwhelming and confusing to start a good record keeping system. The IRS has detailed information on their Web site that can help you get started, in addition to answering your questions about self-employment and income taxes. For more information, visit the IRS’ website.

Guest Blogger: Artist-Friendly CPA

Illustration by Sue Clancy, Norman, for Art Focus Oklahoma magazine

To learn more about the topic, you can attend OVAC’s workshop, “What’s a Write Off?,” on February 18, 5:30-7:30 pm at Mainsite Contemporary Art in Norman. This workshop will address legal, tax, and accounting issues for individual artists. Learn more at

Artist Business: Income Taxes

Art Calendar magazine just released this super helpful guide to changes in tax law that might affect artists on their 2009 taxes. 

To learn more about the topic, you can attend OVAC’s workshop, “What’s a Write Off?,” on February 18, 5:30-7:30 pm at Mainsite Contemporary Art in Norman. This workshop will address legal, tax, and accounting issues for individual artists. Learn more at

Artist Business: Oklahoma Sales Taxes

During a recent visit from an agent of the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC), I wondered if the sales tax procedures for a “business” (think my gallery) were different from those applicable to an individual artist. Since she was there, I asked the agent.

If you are selling art in Oklahoma and a gallery isn’t handling sales tax for you, you must collect sales tax and pay those taxes to the state. In order to collect sales tax, you must have a sales tax permit.

The process for obtaining a sales tax permit is simple and can be done online at the OTC website at for the “Business Registration Forms.” The permit costs $20. There are also workshops available to assist you in filling out the form and obtaining your permit.

Sales taxes can be paid online at the site listed above. It is an easy process and an OTC agent will visit with you to explain how that process works. You have to report every month, even if your sales are $0. After a 6 month probationary period, you can have some flexibility for months with $0 sales. You receive a discount if you pay early, fines if you pay late.

For immediate questions, please contact the OTC Taxpayer Assistance Division at (405) 521-3160 or in-state toll-free at (800) 522-8165. For more explicit information, see my ArtFocus Oklahoma article on page 25 of this issue.  

If I can do this, so can you.
Guest blogger: Stephen Kovash,
Istvan Gallery, OVAC Board President

OVAC will offer “What’s a Write Off?” on February 18, 5:30-7:30 pm at Mainsite Contemporary Art in Norman. This workshop will address legal, tax, and accounting issues for individual artists. Learn more at

Plot points from @OVAC Twitter Feed:

Behind the Art Scenes:

Cool- exhibition tour with Philbrook Curator

nice review by Waylon Summers of Whitney Forsyth’s OVAC-grant funded exhibtiion at Living Arts, Tulsa

Fascinating RT @TylerGreenDC: Bad frames distract from art. Good ones deserve props. From @LACMA:

my newest fave creative resource website 99% (“not about ideas, about making ideas happen”), biz book reviews

RT @Americans4Arts Can Artists Save the World? on artists & environment on ARTSblog:

@patrickallmond gave a recent ASK wkshp on artists using social media. Check it out now on his blog at

nice to see decade review in NYT arguing there aren’t too many artists,

Opportunities for artists & volunteers:
OK photography contest by Foundation for Architecture, categories for artists of all ages & levels

Alice in Wonderland theme show, From CALL FOR ARTISTS

RT @USAOArtDept: sponsoring “Innovations” a judged art show for High School Juniors & Seniors

What is a teaching artist? Potential income for artists & community service too. See blog & workshop series

Cool opp! RT @the_barron In OKC? come to Teaching Artist Toolbox- free workshops!

OVAC News:
25 members to go by Friday to reach 1,000 OK artist supporters. Join here:

Read what OK Art Writing & Curatorial Fellows are reading

Seeking talented, creative video intern, profile artists, document events, and more

Do you read Art Focus Oklahoma magazine? We want your feedback. Fill out our reader survey here:

What is a Teaching Artist?

The Arts Council of OKC and City Arts Center educate audiences of all ages with the help of teaching artists. Their new Teaching Artist Toolbox workshops kick off next week, so we thought it would be helpful to have the organizers explain more about this field. Basically, who is a teaching artists anyway?

Experienced teachers may learn new ways of developing their classes.  Other artists may want to learn about becoming one.   Thanks to Jennifer Barron for her explanation:

In developing a series of workshops specifically for teaching artists, Josh Buss and I thought a lot about who, we were trying to reach. Who, exactly, is a teaching artist?

From my own experience, teaching artists are professionals in every imaginable art form — including painters, ceramicists, ballroom dancers, computer animators, creative writers, and drummers —who seek to use their knowledge and skills as resources for others. Many work in classrooms, but many also work in senior daily living centers, afterschool programs, libraries, museums, correctional facilities, and community organizations. Often, the teaching artists who work in the most disparate settings are the same people. Eric Booth in his 2003 article “The Emergence of the Teaching Artist” states that “[t]he teaching artist’s expertise is the capacity to engage almost anyone in arts experiences.” Focusing on the word “anyone” is a mindset that sets teaching artists apart.

Teaching artists see the value in bringing authentic arts experiences to all, and are some of the strongest advocates for the value of art in people’s lives. Setting goals, working as part of a team, and developing creativity and confidence are often cited as peripheral benefits of arts education. Countless studies document the link between consistent arts education and academic achievement, such as a 2006 study by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum that demonstrated increased literacy in students who had participated in the arts. And teaching artists see the value of arts experiences for all ages: the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, for example, seeks to use poetry to stimulate memory, reaction, and even creativity in those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Finally, children or adults who have positive experiences engaging in the arts are much more likely to keep attending arts exhibits or performances throughout their lives, resulting in a more all-around supportive atmosphere for the arts.

In short, teaching artists add value to any community and engage people to become more involved with the arts!

A lot of this discussion may be theoretical, but I would imagine that almost everyone reading this can think of at least one person in their creative career that gave them the inspiration, challenge, and mentorship to continue pursuing the arts and to go further than they thought they might. Maybe there was more than one. When you think about the impact of teaching artists, think of the impact of that person.

As diverse as they may be in background, artistic discipline, and training, a few common threads crop up when they are asked about challenges that face them as a group. For many, there is a struggle with perception —do teaching artists receive the recognition or respect they deserve? How can teaching artists build community and learn from each other when they work so independently? Can there be professional development that is valid for such a diverse community?

I hope that this series of workshops works to address these needs. Please join us 5:30 p.m. January 19 at the Arts Council of Oklahoma City for our first workshop, “Curriculum Planning 101”. For more information about the Teaching Artist Toolbox series of workshops, call me (405-270-4891) or Josh Buss (405-951-0000) or visit  to register.

-Jennifer Barron, Community Arts Program Director, Arts Council of Oklahoma City